The cliche is true: A change is as good as a rest.
According to a widely-publicised piece of research earlier this year, over one third of us have eaten the same meal for lunch every day for the last nine months. A chap called Nigel admitted to eating the same lunch for the past 20 years (as told to BBC Radio 5 Live). This does not come as a shock to me. A colleague once clocked that I’d had home made tuna salad for lunch at work every day for five months.
Change, eh? Personally, I’m against it. I bought a new grip towel recently and felt widely divergent by choosing a green one rather than the purple I’d repeatedly invested in since I first started buying grip towels for hot yoga in 2005. I took a new route to work this morning on my bike and it didn’t work out well for me: I got lost for 15 minutes which was hugely irritating. My partner – who often attends HYS classes with me – forced me to try a new space in the studio I’d never tried before, and honestly, it upset my equilibrium quite profoundly.
I love routines. I genuinely don’t understand people who – for example – try hot yoga for a few weeks then bounce on to the next thing for a few weeks and on it goes. I even have a bitchy little word for them that I use (in my head; I don’t say it out loud): Sometimeish. Sometimes they’re this; sometimes they’re that, whilst I go about my life smug about having practised the same series of yoga (on and off) for over ten years. I also dance salsa, and have been going to the same dance social, at the same place on the same night of the week since October 2002.
So the same partner who suggested – gasp! – that I place my mate somewhere other in the studio than MY SPOT (think Ross from Friends voice when he’s talking about MY SANDWICH), asked what other classes we should try at Hot Yoga Society. My voice went up a few octaves asking what did he mean, “other classes…”? I do Bikram. Sometimes 90 minutes; sometimes 60 minutes. It works for me.
But trying to show how open-minded, relaxed and try-new-things-ish I am (I’m not any of those things), I decided to try four new, non-Bikram series classes at HYS. I sweated for buns of steel and washboard abs with Peter Mac at the Hot Core, Abs & Glute Blast; flailed around in absolute hysterics at my reflection at Paola’s Body Barre (but boy, did I feel the DOMS the next day); tested my flexibility and tried new yoga moves at Warm Vinyasa Flow, and after a week of basically no sleep, walked out of Mindolistic Meditation (on the Friday evening of the Big Weekender) happier, more energised, relaxed, focused and less manic than I’ve felt in a very long time.
Change can feel hugely disruptive, because as human beings, we are designed to exist in a state of homeostasis and we develop routines and patterns to help maintain the delicate balance around this state of ‘normal’. Some routines make sense; they save us time, preserve energy and help make life easier, streamlined and basically, save us a load of faff.
But just like we do with most things we’re successful at, we take it too far. Our routines start becoming limiting. They narrow our focus. We box ourselves in. We fear the consequences of The Unknown. Like me this morning, getting hugely irritated with my alternative cycle to work. Why was I annoyed? Why couldn’t I just shrug it off and remember not to go that way again? I think one answer is that I definitely need more Mindolistic Meditation classes; another is that I’ve let my routines dictate my choices and whilst this morning, my routine would’ve got me to work on time, there are other occasions where perhaps better things lie outside of the well-worn path.
This month we see Winter finally come to an end (*sobs with gratitude and relief*) and welcome the arrival of Spring. Whilst seasons are cyclical and predictable (apart from British summer weather where it goes from scarf weather to sweltering in a matter of hours), the one consistency is change.
Let me set you a challenge: This month try something new with your yoga practise. It could be as simple a different spot in the studio; a teacher new to you, or time of class you’ve never tried before. Even better, book into a class you’ve not previously attended. You may not love it as much as your ‘normal’ class/ teacher/ spot in the studio, but trying something new will give you a different perspective. You’ll learn something, I promise.
Yogi since 2005, Alex has practised hot yoga in studios across Europe and the USA, but Hot Yoga Society is her favourite!